VBB: Citizenship: e-voting and UK local elections

Pippa Norris: e-voting. She’s talking about remote voting, not Diebold, thank God. Compare with all-postal voting, which also eliminates polling stations. Advantage: convenience, reach immobiles, reduce costs, streamline administration… (really???) Problems: security, data protection, secrecy, integrity, accuracy, equality, reliability; social barriers including equality of access.

In the UK e-voting was done side by side with postal voting in a controlled experiment. Postal voting showed strong returns, an average of 10% increase; e-voting actually drove some declines, apparently. Young disinclined voters weren’t encouraged to vote by the new technology, but older voters were driven by the availability of postal ballots because the mail is a familiar technology.

So the internet is an enabler of these transactions, but it doesn’t necessarily encourage them. That shouldn’t be new to anyone except die hard technologists. This is an important case study, not just for e-voting buffs but also for anyone who wants to look at technology adoption.